How will 2020’s State Propositions Impact Berkeley?

California’s 12 ballot propositions can be confusing for first-time voters. Here’s a summary of each and how they could affect Berkeley residents.


Proposition 14: Prop. 14 would continue to fund California’s stem cell research by allowing the state to borrow up to 5.5 billion dollars. Proponents argue that investing in stem cell research could lead to breakthrough medical treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, cancer, and strokes. Opponents counter that stem cell research within the state has not led to the desired medical advances and that the proposed funding would be better spent in other areas. 

Proposition 15: Today, California is one of a handful of states that does not assess commercial property at its current value. Prop. 15 would change this by raising property taxes on big businesses and generating billions of dollars for schools and community services. This would likely mean greater funding for Berkeley’s public schools, which could pay for classroom supplies, more teachers, and building repairs. Prop. 15’s supporters include former Vice President Joe Biden, Governor Gavin Newsom, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Proposition 16: Under Prop. 16, universities and government employers would be able to consider an individual’s race, gender, or ethnicity when making admissions or hiring decisions. This is a method of affirmative action, which has been outlawed in California since 1996 when voters approved an amendment to the state constitution. Prop. 16’s proponents argue that California’s systemic racism could be addressed through affirmative action, and point to racial disparities in educational opportunities — such as the fact that only 28 percent of University of California’s 2019 accepted students were Black and Latinx, though they make up 60 percent of the state’s population — as evidence. 

Proposition 17: Prop. 17 would grant California’s parolees the right to vote. It would also allow state residents currently on parole to run for elected office. This change would expand the pool of eligible voters in Berkeley and throughout the state. 

Proposition 18: Prop. 18 would amend our state’s constitution to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they would turn 18 by the time of the general election. This would grant partial voting rights to many Berkeley High School (BHS) students — some of whom already work and pay taxes without the ability to vote. 

Proposition 19: Under Prop. 19, seniors buying new homes in California would pay less in taxes. To fund this tax break, Californians who inherit homes from their parents or grandparents would pay significantly higher taxes on that home’s value. The money raised from this proposition would go towards creating a California Fire Response Fund to help suppress fires, which impact Berkeley every year.

Proposition 20: Prop. 20 would make penalties for repeated parole violations and property crimes more severe. Car theft and serial shoplifting, which are currently considered misdemeanors, would become felonies. The proposition would also make it harder for inmates to receive early parole. 

Proposition 21: Prop. 21 would give cities the ability to pass rent control on housing and apartments that are more than 15 years old. Though rent-controlled housing exists in Berkeley, Prop. 21 would expand the city’s ability to flatten rents. Some believe that rent control could help solve Berkeley’s homelessness crisis and support renters that are struggling during the economic crisis, while others see it as an ineffective way to make housing more affordable. 

Proposition 22: Prop. 22 would allow gig companies (such as Uber and Lyft) to treat their workers as contractors instead of employees. As a result, gig workers would not receive paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, or employer-provided healthcare. This could affect Berkeley residents that work via apps like Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and Instacart. 

Proposition 23: Under Prop. 23, all of California’s kidney dialysis clinics would need to have at least one doctor present while operating and would need approval from the state department before shutting down. This proposition would also enforce a non-discrimination policy towards patients. Prop. 23’s supporters argue that the new requirements would improve patient care and prevent medical mishaps in dialysis clinics, while opponents argue that these changes would be costly and unnecessary. 

Proposition 24: Prop. 24 would increase our state’s data privacy regulations. It would prevent businesses from collecting sensitive data (like location, health information, and personal details) without a user’s consent. Prop. 24 also establishes “pay for privacy,” where consumers can pay companies to better protect their data if they can afford it.

Proposition 25: Prop 25 would replace California’s cash bail system with a risk-assessment algorithm to determine if an individual is likely to appear at their trial. This could affect Berkeley residents that are accused of a crime and awaiting trial, as the system would automatically decide whether or not they’ll be released on bail without requiring a fee.